Q&A for Inside Delta Force by Eric L. Haney
Q: The military still refuses to acknowledge the existence of Delta Force. You’re the first veteran of this unit to ever write about its selection process, training, as well as missions it has executed. Why did you decide to break the silence?
A: Silence serves an operational importance. It protects the operational security of current operations and other actions contemplated for the immediate future, and it also protects the identities of the people involved in those operations. But as with all things in the military, custom takes hold and people continue to do things simply because, "That’s the way we’ve always done things around here." And in many cases that serves no useful purpose. The operations and events I speak of in the book took place, on average, two decades ago and I have self-censored even those events to varying degree when I had the slightest doubt that I might divulge something that could have an impact on current or proposed undertakings by Delta Force. But the reason I wrote the book is for the simple fact that I believe it is important for the American people to know what sort of unit this is, what its capabilities are, and the kind of men who compose this singular organization. And also that we realize the tremendous sacrifices these men make for the good of our country. And in light of the recently declared "War on Terrorism" the book just might bring the reader to realize what a thin line of men stand between our nation, our culture, and the forces of barbarism.
Q: What sets Delta Force apart from the other special operations units we have in the military?
Delta Force is the only special operations unit that is tasked with conducting low visibility, counterterrorist operations. It is also the only organization that will send a single individual into enemy territory to accomplish a task. The unit is able to do this because the Delta Force Operator is characterized by his maturity, sound judgement, innovative capabilities, along with his superb combat skills. He is a professional NCO who is older than the average soldier, is already an accomplished leader, and has undergone and successfully completed the rigorous and unique Delta Force Selection process. He is also a man who knows that his most effective weapon is his mind, and he always strives to outthink his enemy before he has to fire the first shot.
Q: The declared "War on Terrorism" is unique in the history of our country. As someone who spent a decade of his life in the shadows combating terrorism, what is your take on the current situation?
A: It’s been a long time coming. The blows we took last September were so severe that we finally realized we are indeed engaged in a war—just as our terrorist enemies have been saying for so many years. We have also realized that certain terrorist elements would not and will not hesitate to use chemical, biological or nuclear weapons against us once they have the means to do so. And for this reason we either take the fight to our enemies and do our utmost to eradicate the current threat (as we are doing), while also working diligently to prevent a regrowth of the terrorist networks or, we accustom ourselves to living as cowards. I believe we are going to do what’s necessary to protect not only ourselves but civilization in general. Because if we don’t, we forfeit the right of living as a free people.
Q: In the first part of Inside Delta Force you discuss what it was like to go through the rigourous selection process to make it into the unit. What was the hardest part of that experience for you?
A: Watching the steady disappearance of men and not knowing the exact reason why and wondering if I was meeting the unknown performance standard. I can remember a day during selection when I realized that two men I had served with and knew quite well, both of them extremely strong, competent, and capable soldiers, were no longer in the course. And I thought, "If they have been given the axe am I far behind them?" I had to work hard to shake-off that feeling, because I knew that to dwell on it would only cause self-doubt. And more often than not self-doubt becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But taken in its totality there was no one portion of Selection more difficult than any other. Stress, the Forty Miler, the Shrink Evaluation,and the Commander’s Board were all very trying and self-testing experiences.
Q: You’ve conducted operations all over the globe, in just about every terrain imaginable. What can you tell us about the brand of warfare being conducted in Afghanistan?
A: This has been a classic "Economy Of Force" operation, and one that will be much studied in the future. We have used the native dissident forces, led by Army Special Forces teams to conduct most of the operations on the ground. Our air power, directed by Special Operations forces has allowed us to achieve "Mass", or decisive combat power, without the need to commit large numbers of American conventional combat troops. In Operation Anaconda we have seen American conventional forces committed to battle once the enemy presented themselves in large identifiable formations that we were able to pin down and kill. But speaking of the warfare itself within Afghanistan: it is savage, brutal, and unthinkably difficult. I’m just glad that our nation still produces men who are up to the requirements of such a fight.
Q: Writing about your time in Delta Force must have conjured up a lot of memories, good and bad. What was the most challenging part of bringing those experiences to the page?
A: Without doubt, the most difficult aspect of writing the book was trying to impart to the reader the emotions I felt and the precarious nature of the experiences. There was no script to follow in those years, just as there is no script to life in general. I never knew in advance what was about to unfold, and I certainly never knew if I would come through the next action whole or alive.
Q: You’ve been out of Delta Force for over a decade now. What experience during your time in the unit remains foremost in your mind?
A: The sense of being with such a superlative and dedicated group of men.
Q: What authors do you enjoy reading? Do you have a favorite book?
A: I am a student of mankind and consequently am drawn to tales of the human spirit. I enjoy philosophy and history more than any other subjects. Of the near contemporary writers I particularly like Steinbeck. In Spanish I am a great fan of Mario Vargas Llosa, and Isabel Allende. But my favorite author of all time and my favorite book is Herman Melville and Moby-Dick. I read it at least once a year.
Q: In your post-military life, you didn’t exactly retire to the country villa. Could you tell us something about what you did?
A: My first post-retirement job was conducting the ransom negotiation and ransom hand-over for a kidnapped oil executive in Colombia. I then worked for several years as a detail leader on the personal protection program of Saudi Prince Khaled Abdulaziz. A bit later I was contracted to build and lead the protective detail for the CEO of the largest corporation in Mexico. My protectee was a gentleman who had risen to the number one position on an international kidnap list. Originally he had been in the number three slot but had moved to the top of the list after numbers one and two were kidnapped. Interestingly those two kidnappings paid, respectively, 90 million, and 60 million dollars.
In between those activities I worked with two Middle-Eastern countries in their efforts to create their own Special Operations forces. In 1994 I was a detail leader on the protective program of President Bertrand Aristid upon his return to Haiti. In the following years I worked in Algeria leading the protection of a gas pipeline project as it went through a guerilla and terrorist controlled region, and started a contract aviation company in the West African country of Liberia.
A bit later I was approached about organizing and leading a coup attempt in another African nation. I am happy to report that I was able to completely thwart the parties who wanted that coup, several of the conspirators were arrested a short while later, and the country in question has remained peaceful ever since. Scattered throughout those events I have conducted security surveys and put together security programs for companies and groups threatened with genuine terrorist action in various world trouble spots. And from time to time I have been engaged conducting the recovery of American children who had been kidnapped and carried out of the country. In recent years I have been writing on terrorism, guerilla warfare, and Special Operations.
Q: What’s next?
A: If the readers have a positive response to Inside Delta Force then I think I’d like to take some actual mission tales from my post-military life, give them a fictional spin, which would allow me to introduce some truly exceptional characters, and put those stories out in a novel series. Each story would be based on operations I have conducted for various clients around the world. They range from the recovery of kidnap victims in the Middle-East to a counter-coup in Africa to perhaps a tale about international gun-running. I’d also like to take some exciting historical events, such as the Spanish conquest of Mexico to name one, and present it in the form of historical fiction. It is a method that would allow me to concentrate on the characters as real humans. And I believe it would make those events come alive.